KELLER — Voters on Saturday sided with public art supporters, kicking out three incuments in a contentious City Council election, according to complete but unofficial results.
American Airlines pilot Jim Thompson, 50, defeated 45-year-old Place 4 incumbent Jim Carson, who fought the use of taxpayer dollars to fund public art.
Former Keller Public Arts Board chairman John Baker, 57, also a pilot, won the Place 2 race, beating incumbent Mark Harness, 47, a church administrator, and challengers Scott Zang, 34, a sales manager, and Kevin Jerome, 42, an investor.
In the Place 3 race, Tom Cawthra, 40, another public arts supporter, defeated incumbent Bob Kirk, 47, an aircraft mechanic, and challenger Bob Welch, 49, a Keller business owner.
Of the city’s 25,020 registered voters, 961 voted early in Saturday’s election, which became a flashpoint of a regional debate over whether tax dollars should help pay for public displays of sculptures, paintings and fountains.
Keller public art advocates said the five-member council’s support for public art had spiraled downward in recent years. A major issue was the council’s decision last year to eliminate a separate account for public art, deciding instead to pay for pieces as needed through the city’s general fund.
Carson said public art should never supersede needs such as public safety, roads and infrastructure. In February, he cast the lone dissenting vote against funding a sculpture of an eagle for the city’s Veterans Memorial park.
Several candidates, including Jerome and Welch, also ran on platforms opposing building more apartments or multi-family housing in Keller Town Center.
ADRIENNE NETTLES, 817-685-3820
John Baker: 979 votes, 53%
Mark Harness (i): 522 votes, 28%
Kevin Jerome: 244 votes, 13%
Scott Zang: 102 votes, 5.5%
Tom Cawthra: 943 votes, 52%
Bob Kirk (i): 560 votes, 31%
Bob Welch: 320 votes, 18%
Jim Carson (i): 604 votes, 33%
Jim Thompson: 1,222 votes, 67%